Healthcare News & Insights

Make lasting changes in your hospital: 4 critical steps

Many hospitals are making big changes in the face of value-based care. And when these changes start paying off in the form of better patient outcomes, the last thing a facility wants to do is to start backsliding into the old way of doing things. 

gettyimages-532551459Change itself is already challenging. But maintaining change is its own separate battle.

Hospitals must make sure any new initiatives, value-based or otherwise, are sustainable in the long term so their efforts don’t go to waste.

How top performers thrive

In an article from Harvard Business Review, authors Kedar Mate and Jeffrey Rakover, two researchers at the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, took a look at how top-performing health systems across the country manage to implement long-lasting changes in their hospitals.

Using their work as the basis, the authors discovered that the most successful health systems follow four critical steps throughout the process:

  1. Create a pilot group for large-scale changes. Instead of trying to implement sweeping change in all areas of a hospital at once, these health systems usually started off on a smaller scale. They tested the initiative out in one department or unit first. That way, they could work out any kinks and standardize processes for other departments without disrupting the operations of the entire facility. Per the researchers, the unit or department selected should have low staff turnover, engaged managers and a team that’s aligned around the same goals.
  2. Work closely with clinicians on the front lines. Instead of limiting the planning to the executives, the board or administrators, it’s important to include clinical leaders who interact with patients and staff on a daily basis, such as charge nurses. They have the best idea of what it’ll take to make changes work with the daily workflow of clinical staff, which makes it more likely new habits will stick.
  3. Use early successes to motivate staff. When creating a framework for change, it’s important to have clear goals in mind – both big and small. While it’s essential to have a long-term view of improving patient care, short-term goals are also needed. Reason: People are more motivated to stick with changes if they see something’s working right away. Many high-performing health systems ask their pilot departments to track simple metrics that align with the overall goal of the initiative, so they can see the impact of their changes more quickly.
  4. Tackle staff members’ challenges and frustrations right away. Even the most well designed program won’t get buy-in from front-line managers and staff if it doesn’t address their problems and concerns. So it’s key to make sure any new initiatives offer solutions to some of the day-to-day problems staff experience that affect how well they can deliver care to patients. Seek impact from clinical staff about the issues they’re currently facing, and keep solutions to them in mind when making changes to boost efficiency and care quality.

 

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